On Sunday evening, firefighters arrived at a natural gas well in rural Johnson County to find an SUV engulfed in flames. Inside was the body of Robert Excell Dodson II, 44, a father of three and the vice president of Dallas' Buckley Oil Company. It was unclear how long he had been dead before the vehicle was set ablaze, but it was clear to officials that he had been murdered.
The details surrounding his death are still murky, but what's emerged so far through police records and reports in the Star-Telegram paint a picture of Dodson as something of a failed Walter White, a white collar guy whose life was unraveling in a spiral of meth and violence.
Dodson's downward spiral first came into public view on June 28, when 17-year-old Claudia Hidic was gunned down on the back steps of his Fort Worth Home. Hidic, police said later, had hired a couple of men, both 21-year-old former football standouts at North Crowley High School, to stage a kidnapping. The idea was to go to Dodson's house and demand that he pay a ransom, but he wasn't home. One of the men who was at the house retrieved a gun, and Hidic was reportedly killed in the ensuing shootout.
The attempted robbery wasn't random. Dodson had met Hidic a couple of months before through her older sister, telling the Star-Telegram that it was clear that "Claudia needed some direction and counseling."
How much guidance Dodson offered is an open question, but it's clear that his mentorship, if that's what it was, was unorthodox. Four days before her murder, Hidic sold him a 40-caliber pistol. In setting up the fake kidnapping, she referred to Dodson as "Ghost." Inside Dodson's home after Hidic's murder, police found a digital scale, syringes, small baggies, and what appeared to be crystal meth.
Dodson denied ownership of the items and wasn't arrested but was arrested after a traffic stop early last month for meth possession. An acquaintance of Dodson's, quoted anonymously by the Star-Telegram, said he had become increasingly paranoid after his arrest that someone was after him.
That much seems clear at this point. Johnson County officials say they are checking leads to figure out who that might be.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.